morning

jeep

The tires of my jeep clatter across the streetcar tracks. Heading east at 5:45 am means there are so few people out, but you can see the sun’s reflection in the glass-clad skyscrapers. The thriving city seems to still be sleeping, still new, still fresh. I mash down on the gas pedal, relishing the feeling of the morning.

I never identified as a morning person. Even now, after waking up early every day for many years, articles that promise the secrets to early rising still pique my interest. “What are their secrets?” I muse, despite having nailed the wake up long ago.

As a child and then as a teenager, I was never one to sleep in late. Sure, I would stay in bed late, but I would be awake, tucking into a book or lying, looking out my window. Even in university, after a big night out, I’d still be one of the first (out of a house of five girls) to wake up.

There is something that I’ve always loved—the promise of something new, the sweetness of the sunrise and the opportunity to get a jump on life. I guess you could say my commitment to the earliest of dawn hours was cemented when my husband had to be on a job site by 7 each morning. The job site was over an hour away. At five, the alarm would sound and we’d be sufficiently roused shortly after, with all sorts of appliances (juicer, blender, coffee machine) working their magic.

But my flirtation with the morning, particularly the city morning, started before that—running in the morning, or taking our dog for a walk. The play of crisp air, rising sun and quiet city calmed me. To someone who has never lived in a city, the magic of morning may not be readily apparent. For a busy city, like Toronto, there is always something going on. Even at 5:45, the coffee shops are full of construction workers, filling up before they head to site. But at that hour, it is still the beginning. The beginning of their shift, the day. The seemingly incessant motion of daylight hasn’t started. It is almost as though there is a pause—the pause between breaths, the pause between night and day.

I loved my summer—it was fun and indulgent, with a lot of time spent with friends. It was the perfect antidote to a long, dark winter. For a morning lover, summer holds so much promise—the magic hour has a brilliant golden shimmer cast over it. Love that early sunrise.  Those few Sunday mornings, after indulgence and laughter and red, red wine, I slept in by a few hours (waking at a time that would still be considered blasphemously early by many). The first few times that happened, I couldn’t place where my uneasy feeling came from. I felt bad, guilty even.

Combined with the fact that it was Sunday (scientifically the shortest and woe-some day of the week), this late wake up was a dark fog. Until I put my finger on it—I was mourning my loss of morning. The quiet time. The fresh time. The new time.

Speeding through the city at the quietest moments of dawn, I smile. The sweet freshness blows in the windows and the CBC is chattering on the radio. The construction workers are heading to work, with their reflective vests and hard hats. The early morning runners are heading out. And I’m soaking it all in, ushering in the day as I clatter over the streetcar tracks.

alex kelly

public health + personal wellness